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Permanent Collection

The permanent collection of the Gibbes Museum of Art spans four centuries and provides a dynamic introduction to the visual culture of America and the American South from the colonial era to the present. Paintings, sculptures, miniature portraits, works on paper, decorative art objects, and multi-media installations, created by American artists, express the evolving aesthetic tastes of this city. The Gibbes collection has deep roots in history and has grown and transformed along with the city. New research, methods of interpretation, and discoveries of objects continually increase knowledge, promote social inclusion, and fill gaps in our shared culture. The collection contains artworks inspired by this region’s unique landscape and cultural heritage, as well as cosmopolitan works that demonstrate art patronage through the ages.

VIEW COLLECTION Image: Wave Upon Wave (detail), 2014, by John Westmark (American, b. 1963); acrylic, quilting pins, and paper sewing patterns on canvas; 66 x 99 ¾ inches; Museum purchase with funds from the Bonner Fund; 2014.007

Miniature Collection

The first-ever American miniatures were painted in Charleston and today the Gibbes is home to one of the most prestigious American portrait miniature collections in the country. Comprised of over 600 works the collection spans from early colonial examples of the 18th century to Revival Period miniatures made in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Most small enough to fit in the palm of the hand, portrait miniatures are unique works of art painted in watercolor on thin disks of ivory. Highly personal objects, these tiny paintings were often made to commemorate births, engagements, marriages, and even deaths, offering unique insight into the private lives of American individuals and families before the advent of photography.

VIEW COLLECTION Image: Eliza Izard (Mrs. Thomas Pinckney, Jr., 1784–1862 ), 1801, by Edward Greene Malbone (American, 1777–1807); watercolor on ivory; 2 7/8 x 2 3/8 inches; Museum purchase; 1939.004.0004 and Colonel Thomas Pinckney, Jr. (1780-1842), 1801, by Edward Greene Malbone (American, 1777–1807); watercolor on ivory; 3 x 2 3/8 inches; Museum purchase; 1939.004.0003
Image: Mrs. Robert Gilmor, Jr. (Sarah Reeve Ladson, ca. 1790 - 1866), 1823, by Thomas Sully (American, 1783 - 1872); oil on canvas; 46 ½ x 39 inches (framed); Bequest of Mrs. Leila Ladson Jones; 1942.10.03

On View

Learn more about the Permanent Collection Galleries.



Frequently Asked Questions

I have a question about a work of art in the Museum’s collection. Who should I contact?

Please email your question to [email protected] and we’ll ensure it’s sent to the appropriate team member.

I would like to use an image from the Gibbes Museum of Art’s permanent collection for a publication. What is the best way to do that?

Please refer to our Image Resource Guide for more information. Please note that images from the Gibbes Museum’s collection may not be used for personal use.

I would like to do scholarly research on an artist/artwork in the collection. How can I do that?

Access to the Museum archives and library is limited and available by appointment only. Please contact [email protected] to schedule an appointment.

I own artwork that I think might be valuable. Can the Gibbes Museum of Art assess its value or determine its authenticity?

Although Museum policy does not permit us to comment on the authenticity or value of works of art, we’re happy to give you a list of suggested appraisers that may be able to help. Contact [email protected] for more information.


Henry Benbridge: Charleston Portrait Painter (1743 – 1812) with essays by Maurie D. McInnish, Leslie Reinhardt, Roberta Sokolitz, and Carol Aiken, Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, SC, 2000

In Pursuit of Refinement: Charlestonians Abroad (1740 – 1860) by Maurie D. McInnis is collaboration with Angela D. Mack, Gibbes Museum of Art with the cooperation of the Historic Charleston Foundation, University of South Carolina Press, 1999

Landscape of Slavery: The Plantation in American Art edited by Angela D. Mack and Stephen G. Hoffius, Gibbes Museum of Art, The University of South Carolina Press, 2008

The Life and Art of Alfred Hutty: Woodstock to Charleston edited by Sara C. Arnold and Stephen G. Hoffius, Gibbes Museum of Art, University of South Carolina Press, 2012